Ester Bentley receives Impact award for her research with the goal of GPS-free navigation

Bentley presented her research as an NDSEG Fellow. She is working to make smaller, more affordable high accuracy navigation-grade gyroscopes.
Ester Bentley

Ester Bentley presented her doctoral research at the 2022 DoD NDSEG National Fellows Conference, held July 24-28, and came home with an award for Exemplary Impact and Relevance to DoD Research Objectives in the area of Electrical Engineering. There were 19 different areas of research featured at the conference. 

A 2020 recipient of an NDSEG Fellowship, Bentley is developing high performance 3D mechanical resonators, which enable smaller, more precise, and cost-efficient navigation-grade gyroscopes. These devices would help drones and autonomous vehicles stay on track when a GPS signal is either lost or unavailable. It could also help soldiers navigate back to safety should a GPS signal be purposely jammed.

We’re at a very exciting stage –  small changes produce big results.

Ester Bentley

Bentley presented her research, “Highly Symmetric Fused Silica Hemispherical Resonators for Navigation-Grade Gyroscopes,” during one of the poster sessions featuring Fellow Innovative Doctoral Research.

Examples of Fused Silica resonators manufactured by the Najafi Group. Photo: Najafi Group, University of Michigan.

“I work to make smaller, more affordable high accuracy navigation-grade gyroscopes,” explained Bentley, “and aim to go smaller than a 1 cm device. My main focus is on shrinking the resonating component and part of this work has involved establishing a non-destructive 3D imaging characterization method to study the resonator structure and features.”

Bentley said it isn’t possible to use conventional imaging techniques such as optical microscopy or Scanning Electron Microscopy to study the resonator structure without having to destroy it, thus establishing an imaging technique was key for long-term streamlined development. 

“The Najafi Group has made amazing progress on this line of research in the last decade,” notes Bentley. ”We’re at a very exciting stage –  small changes produce big results – and it’s great to see a lot of continued interest in this work from both Industry and from the DoD.” 

The award was presented by Dr. Bindu Nair, Director of the Basic Research Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Bentley received her B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from MIT. Prior to enrolling at U-M, she spent five years in industry carrying out Military Product Development across various markets. Bentley is a College of Engineering Bridge-to-the-Doctorate Fellowship recipient and a Rackham Merit Fellow. She is advised by Khalil Najafi, the Schlumberger Professor of Engineering.

Electronics, Devices, Computers; Khalil Najafi; Lurie Nanofabrication Facility; MEMS and Microsystems; Research News; Solid-State Devices and Nanotechnology